Stories for the Nursing Home
Each night when Shelly and I get some quiet time together to recap our days, she will often end her recap with “these will be great stories for the nursing home someday”. Truly, these stories are full of “color” and often lead to laughter, but sometimes tears and even prayers. They always present a chance to support each other. These stories are not just important for the nursing home, but also for passing down to generations.
Yesterday, Shelly’s Dad (Ken) came over for coffee. Our youngest son, Grant, 16, was in the room and so we got Ken talking about his favorite topic; boxing. Ken always starts these stories with growing up in the “southeast bottoms” of Des Moines (a slum that no longer exists). He had it rough. He was a teenager during the 60’s turmoil and racial tensions. He literally had to fight his way out. Through a series of “misunderstandings”, he was kicked out of school, sent to “Eldora” (a reform school) and ended up in Anamosa (prison) for a short stint. He was able to overcome it all, become a successful business man and provide others the opportunity to turn their lives around. It all sounds like a Johnny Cash song, but he truly was going to get tough or die trying. After Anamosa, he became a boxer and was trained by Des Moines boxing legend Pinky George. Pinky had worked with Ali and many boxers of that era. He made Ken into the Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champ from Des Moines 1961. He sent him to LA to turn pro and be trained by famous trainer Duke Holloway. While there, he was able to spar a few rounds with Jerry Quarry. It was around Christmastime and Ken got homesick, came back to Iowa to see his dying father and never returned to boxing.
This little summary can’t come close to conveying the entertaining nature in which his stories are told. But what I love about it is that Shelly intentionally had him share stories with Grant so they will live on well past Ken and well past our time in the nursing home. I encourage you to not only look at your daily experiences* as stories for the nursing home (the more “color” the better), but intentionally pass them down so ancestors can stay present for generations to come.
*no better place than a hospital for colorful stories, it’s why so many soap operas have hospital settings!